While doing a training jump in South Africa before the start of the World Cup, this skydiver startled a flock of birds that were taking a dip in the swoop pond. As the birds began taking off, one of them clipped the jumper’s canopy mid-swoop, sending him crashing into the pond. The jumper was fine… we don’t know about the bird.
Why did it happen
Waterfowl are, by definition, drawn to bodies of water. As such, a swoop pond in the middle of a dry and arid environment is going to attract them. The possibility of a bird is always there in that type of setting – just ask anyone who has trained on the pond at Dubai – but this bird was evidently also a bit larger than normal.
How could it be prevented
“Shoo bird! Shoo!”
The dropzone and competitors were actively trying to shoo these animals off the pond but they would evidently just return minutes later. In the words of one competitor,
“They’re not allowed to shoot ’em, so they spent days trying to chase them away. They would just come back though. Zero bird f#@&$ were given.”
One possible option would be to keep an air-horn by the pond and have someone hit it as a jumper is beginning their run.